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We are not afraid of discussing mistakes to improve our English.

self-made vs. home-made

The English expression self-made is quite often incorrectly used as a translation of the German word selbstgemacht. A classic example is I brought self-made cake to work today. (Wrong) Interestingly, the situation is more complicated than I expected. In particular, whether or not self-made is a false friend (and should be replaced with home-made) depends

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Got eggs?

I recently came across a hilarious false friend in the discussion forum of a newspaper website. A German native speaker who seemed to be very keen on using English expressions accidentally translated the colloquial German expression “Eier haben” (Mut haben, to have courage) as “to have eggs” by writing Der Mann hat eggs. The correct

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False friend alert: to go studying (studieren gehen)

My fellow German native speakers tend to make the mistake of translating the expression studieren gehen as to go studying. However, the correct English expression is to go to university. Moreover, in a previous post, I had pointed out that the noun study is not the English translation of Studium but instead means Studie. Therefore, a

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Blame yourself for using this false friend

German native speakers often believe that the expression “to blame oneself” is the English equivalent of “sich blamieren”. However, “to blame oneself” means to hold oneself responsible for something bad, and translates to “sich selbst die Schuld geben” in German. A correct English expression for “sich blamieren” is “to make a fool of oneself”.  

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Eliminate these wannabe-Germanisms

In this post, I want to discuss some fascinating mistakes made even by very advanced speakers. They concern expressions which are borrowed from their native language (called Germanisms when borrowed from German), and are not used by native English speakers. The examples given below are typically absent in formal writing, but often show up in

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